Today was my first ever Barcamp in Sarasota and if you’ve got a Barcamp group (or want to form one) in your city, it’s well worth checking into — regardless of whether you are a techie, a marketer, a financial planner, an executive, or someone who simply is interested in technology. I had no idea of what it was going to be all about in a “user structured conference” but friends had attended a Barcamp in Orlando months ago and raved about it. The term itself has an interesting origin:
From WikiPedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp: The name “BarCamp” is a playful allusion to the event’s origins, with reference to the hacker slang term, foobar: BarCamp arose as a spin-off of Foo Camp, an annual invitation-only participant driven conference hosted by open source publishing luminary Tim O’Reilly.
Barcamps have spread around the world and cover a range of technology related topics. The Barcamp.org’s official website features the following definitions:
- is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment.
- It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event.
Barcamps are held throughout the U.S. and the world (Europe, South America, Asia, etc. – sites were too many to count on the website) and generally follow a two-day format. Depending on who attends, the Barcamp becomes a reflection of those who wish to share their expertise in an interactive format with audience members. The Barcamp Sarasota was the inaugural two-day conference for the group (they also host a monthly lunch meeting for its members and membership is free).
Day 1 (April 17, 2010) boasted an attendance exceeding 150 and Day 2 (today) was a smaller group of about 60 people hailing from a variety of technology related professions. Sessions today ranged from Social Media to the New Science of Networking (People not Hardware) to Women in Technology to Strategies (that work) for Online Game Development. Students from the high school where it was hosted also presented some of their technology projects.
Yesterday’s sessions included economic development, green technologies, and other topics. Because the conference is structured only as attendees arrive and volunteer to speak on topics of interest (in an interactive format), every day at every Barcamp is a unique experience. I made several new, valuable contacts today and look forward to attending Barcamp in future locations.
To your successful projects!